Younger demo floods city’s wine and food show





Rene Rodrigues, left, and assistant Alex Craig from Luxe Bistro are reflected in a mirror so spectators can better see how they whip up some fresh ideas for chefs and food-lovers alike during the Food and Wine Show held at the Ottawa Congress Centre on the weekend.


If you looked closely at the crowd attending the closing day of Ottawa’s 22nd annual Wine and Food Show yesterday, you might have noticed that people looked … young.

It reflects a recent demographic shift in the show’s attendance, and verifies a trend producers have noticed: that a younger crowd is coming to appreciate fine wine and food in Ontario.

"I think the younger generation is more open to trying new things. They have more open palates," said Ed Madronich, president of Flat Rock Cellars of Jordan, Ontario.

The average age of the crowd Saturday was under 25, agreed Doug Rice, a premium account manager for Vincor Canada, which owns the popular Jackson Triggs and Inniskillin labels.

"Wine has a different cachet for that age group," Rice said. "Two or three years ago, everyone was drinking martinis."

That appreciation for — and knowledge of — wine is in line with today’s corporate lifestyle, Rice said, adding, "It’s almost an expectation to know about wine. It’s like golf used to be."

Hundreds of exhibitors from around the world were featured at the event, which welcomed 26,000 visitors over three days, said show owner Robert Player.

As wine becomes more popular, people are seeking vintages that complement their favourite foods. Andrew Hanna, director of sales at the Prince Edward County-based John Hanna and Sons, said, "People who are really keen on wine and food come together in one place."

The event allowed Ottawans Kate Goodwin and Jessica Dionne to try things they otherwise might not think to.

"Some of the restaurants are expensive, so the show allows people to see if it’s worth it," said Dionne.

And those within the local hospitality industry that depend on expanding their brands were happy to let people sample.

"We’re meeting new faces that haven’t been to our shop," said Leigh Gray, a pastry chef with Ottawa’s A Culinary Conspiracy.

more confident

  • People are no longer as intimidated by wine as they used to be, said Ted Robinson, vice-president sales and marketing with Churchill Cellars Ltd.